Updated: Dec 30, 2019
Tropaeoleum majus, is probably best known as an ornamental, climbing garden plant with striking, brightly coloured flowers. It is also a common garden ‘escapee’ and can be seen along the roadsides and river banks in many places around the Waikato. Nasturtium belongs to the same family of plants as Horseradish, as does Watercress which has the botanical name of Nasturtium officinale. Slightly confusing! However, nasturtium and watercress share some similar constituents and health properties.
The leaves and flowers of nasturtium have a peppery taste, they are high in vitamin C and the flowers contain good amounts of an anti-oxidant called anthocyanin which is a potent scavenger of free radicals. All parts of the plant can be eaten. The leaves can be added to pasta dishes, soups and pesto to give a piquant, peppery kick. The chopped leaves and flowers can be added to sandwiches, mayonnaise and salad dressings. The seed pods can be pickled like capers. Be warned that as the summer heats up so does the peppery taste in the leaves and flowers. For a milder taste, pick from plants growing in shade or semi shade.
Recipe - Nasturtium Mayonnaise 1 cup mayonnaise ½ clove garlic, finely chopped 1/3 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind 2 teaspoons finely chopped nasturtium leaves and flowers
Combine all ingredients and chill until required.
Recipe - Nasturtium, Beetroot and Walnut Salad 120g Backyard Jem Salad mix 10 Nasturtium flowers and leaves with the stalks removed 150g cooked Backyard Jem beetroot, thinly sliced 200g walnut halves, lightly toasted in a hot, dry frying pan
5 tablespoons Hemp Farm hemp oil 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 1 teaspoon mustard ½ teaspoon Hunt & gather Bush blend honey Freshly ground salt and pepper
Place the salad mix in your serving dish. Add the nasturtium leaves, beetroot slices and walnuts Sprinkle the flowers in the top.
Mix the hemp oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard and honey together, add salt and pepper to taste. Add to the salad just before serving.
Nasturtium should not be taken medicinally or in large amounts in the diet, by pregnant and breast feeding women and people with some medical conditions including kidney disorders and stomach ulcers People who suffer from hypothyroid problems should also avoid using nasturtium in large quantities, as the glucosinolates contained in the plant may further depress thyroid function.